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To the west of the Palace of Westminster, this superbly striking piece of Early English Gothic architecture enthralls one and all with its 700-year-old history and its immediate association with British Royalty. First built by King Edward the Confessor between 1042 and 1052 as St Peter's Abbey, the church was meant to serve as a royal burial site for himself and all regal heirs that followed. Quickly, this originally Romanesque church also became the site where coronations and royal weddings took place, thus going on to become one of the most significant religious buildings for British monarchs. While the abbey held the status of a cathedral for several years in the 16th Century, it was soon designated the title of a 'royal peculiar' or a church that is directly governed by the crown, in the later years. The abbey, with its majestic ivory turrets that aim for the sky, dramatic buttresses that line the southern facade and the Norman-style nave that sits between the two towers stands as one of London's most astonishing royal landmarks today.
Since being catapulted into the public thought in Dan Brown's international bestseller, The Da Vinci Code, the medieval Knights Templars have been the target of much speculation from historians and conspiracy theorists alike. Who were the Knights Templars? What was their connection to Christ? Were they a secret society assigned to protect the secrets of the universe? Whatever the reasons for their founding, a visit to the Temple Church, just off London's Fleet Street, will bring you closer to the mystery, and perhaps even the truth! Built by the Knights Templars in the 12th Century, this church serves the Inner Temple and the Middle Temple, and also hosts regular prayer services and events. Visiting times change each week; check the website for specific hours.
Enthroned on London's highest point at the summit of Ludgate Hill, St. Paul's elegant silhouette is an icon of the city skyline, its soaring dome framed by the cathedral's spires. First built in 604 but destroyed by the Great Fire of 1666, the beautiful building that stands today was designed by Sir Christopher Wren in the English Baroque style. While the marvelous facade is a stunning triumph, it does little to belay the sumptuous interiors, brimming with vivid sculptures, intricate carvings and gleaming gilded details. St Paul's has been host to many important events over the years, including the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill in 1965 and the wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981. Of the cathedral's many treasures, the Whispering Gallery is worth a special mention; just a whisper against the blank circular wall can be heard 42 meters (137.7 feet) away on the opposite side. The seat of the Bishop of London, the St. Paul's remains a venerated place of worship even as droves of tourists flock to its benevolent embrace.
St Bartholomew the Great is a church that is known for the beautiful paintings and stained glass windows that add to the beauty of it's interiors. The first Prior of the church, Rahere's tomb lies within the church. It is said that Rahere established the church after he saw a vision of Saint Bartholomew who asked him to build the church where it stands today. You can admire the artwork within the church while sitting silently in prayer. There is the Cloister Cafe which serves coffee, tea, beer and wines in the church premises, especially for post-wedding celebrations etc.
With a history dating circa to the 7th-century, All Hallows by the Tower is the oldest of its kind in London and was established by the Abbey of Barking. The sanctuary is near to the Tower of London and has Saxon influences in its interior architecture. It also features the Crypt Museum with Saxon and Roman artifacts along with other historic registers. The church was severely damaged in the World War II with only the walls and tower intact. It was rebuilt immediately after the war to its present structure. Don't miss this place if you love history or religious sites.
Opened in 1701, after many Jewish people were invited into England during the 1600s, Bevis Marks Synagogue is one of England's oldest. Still retaining many of its original interior furnishings, many say it is awe-inspiring and breath taking. Noted, as being difficult to find in London's winding financial district, Bevis Marks Synagogue is history, religion and tradition rolled into one. Do check out the website for service timings.
The London Central Mosque is located in the Regent's Park, and was built over 50 years ago. Architecturally, the building is stunning, with a golden dome, marble floors and intricate mosaics. However, the mosque is not merely a showpiece; practically, it can accommodate over 4,500 people for prayer meetings, which are held serveral times every day. The Islamic Cultural Centre is next to the mosque. This provides London's Muslim community with a reference library and concert hall, as well as a place for meetings, and educational outings for children. The Centre is also licensed to conduct wedding ceremonies.